Sir: David Lister's article (14 August) on the possibility of Lottery funds being used to cut ticket prices raises some important issues for those who attend, or would like to attend, performances.
The notion of public subsidy being used to keep ticket prices within the reach of a broad section of the population is not a new one; most people working in the arts believe that is its main function. Certainly, without grant-aid, ticket prices for a lot of events would be very much higher. It should be pointed out, however, that for the majority of organisations in receipt of public funding, ticket prices are nothing like those of the Royal Opera House or the RSC, with an average of around pounds 10 being common, and many being much less.
While greater financial support is urgently needed to ensure that ticket prices do not rise inexorably and theatres remain open, offering exciting programmes at a price well within reach of most, it would not be helpful for a specific ceiling to be set by any grant-giving body. Taking into account local conditions, we charge as much as we can to those people who can afford to pay higher prices, in order that we can make available cheap tickets to those who can't.
Certainly ticket prices, and the additional costs involved in going to a play, concert or a ballet (such as transport and baby-sitting) are an important consideration, but experience indicates that it is only one of many.
Much more important are the quality of an event and the opportunity for entertainment (in the widest sense of the word) it offers. All the research on this subject indicates that price is only one of many factors we need to take on board if the audience for the arts is to be significantly widened.
Warwick Arts Centre
University of Warwick
14 AugustReuse content